Gerard Way on the ‘Umbrella Academy’ movie: ‘I don’t want it to be ‘Harry Potter”

Oct. 22, 2008 | 8:05 p.m.


Gerard_way_at_spike_tv_scream_2008_I ran into one of my favorite people in comics and music, Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame, backstage at the Spike TV Scream 2008 Awards. We wandered around a bit, and I was fortunate enough to introduce him to both Frank Miller and Tim Burton (I do love my job). Way was in such a good mood that he gave me the major lowdown on “The Umbrella Academy” ramping up as a film project at Universal. He talked about his hopes to bring in people such as “Children of Men” director Alfonso Cuarón, Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Chicago,” “Sweeney Todd“) and perhaps screenwriter Diablo Cody, who picked up an Academy Award for “Juno.”

GB: So what’s the good word on “The Umbrella Academy”?

Way: “We just had our first meeting at Universal, and it went great. The hardest thing was finding the right building and the right gate. Nah, the meeting was great, really, really great. The book was optioned before [International Comic-Con in] San Diego, and now it’s been green-lighted. Now we’re talking screenwriters and directors, obviously. There’s no director attached yet.”

GB: What can you tell us about the process so far and your priorities?

Way: “They want me to be very involved in it. I’m interested in co-scoring it with somebody too. Something like RJ-D2. Something completely different. Do you know what I mean? I think everything he does has an interesting ’60s vibe. It almost has that dystopian ‘The Prisoner’ feel to it.”

GB: You would almost want a “Harold & Maude” meets “X-Men” sensibility to an “Umbrella” movie, if that doesn’t sound too odd.

Umbrella_academy_2Way: “No, basically that’s it. Yeah, ‘Harold & Maude‘ meets the ‘X-Men.’ The soundtrack can’t be a straight score. It has to have some kind of quirk to it. I want to make the music super, super interesting.”

GB: What do you know about the timetable for the film?

Way: “I’ve heard 2010 and 2011. I think 2010 is the big Marvel year, right? So maybe 2011. Not that this is going to be like those movies, really. I said going into the meetings that this film has to be really progressive. It can’t simply be the next opportunity for a video game. In the way that ‘The Dark Knight’ made its own rules, it needs to have its own energy. One of the names I was really interested in as far as screenwriters was Diablo Cody. I think it’s an unexpected choice. Everything about this book has been making the less-obvious choices.”

Gerard_way_at_mtv_europe_music_awarGB: Tell me the one thing you don’t want to have happen with the film.

Way: The one thing I don’t want to have happen is I don’t want it to be ‘Harry Potter.’ And the studio doesn’t want that. The boy in this story is not a boy. He’s 60 years old. He is an assassin. There’s so much about him that is extremely violent. So that’s why I don’t want this to look like ‘Harry Potter.’ It’s not pretty and nice and safe. It has funny moments, but it’s a dark humor. Everything about the movie has to interlock properly. I want the music to be just right. I want Colleen Atwood to do the costumes. She’s never done a super-hero. We actually had a meeting long before the Universal meeting when I first really heard about the possibility of the film. It was one of the first things I did, right away. What will make the project special is the people that work on it.

GB: That makes sense. How does that shape your thought on the best option at director?

Way: I love Alfonso Cuarón. That would be amazing.

GB: What about the obvious choice, Wes Anderson? You’ve told me in the past that he has been a key influence on your sensibility with “The Umbrella Academy.”

Umbrella_dallas_2Way: “I think that’s too close to home. It’s too much to the source, unfortunately for me. I think he would read it and think, ‘I think I’ve covered this ground already.’ He was such a major influence on ‘The Umbrella Academy.’ I think he would read the book and think it’s like one of his films with super powers. OK, maybe it’s not that bad. But I was inspired not just by his rhythm but by the things that influenced him. Like ‘Harold & Maude.’ But I think it might be too much to the source.”

GB: Michel Gondry seems like a director who would also have an affinity for the quirky and sometimes grotesque universe you’ve explored in “Umbrella.” Did that name come up?

Way: I love everything Gondry is doing. I love that lo-fi element. He could do something amazing with this. I thought ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ was so interesting, the way it was made and the texture of it. I’ve seen every one of his films. I loved ‘Be Kind Rewind.’ There are so many directions we could go in. I’m just excited to be in this process, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.”

–Geoff Boucher

RELATED Gerard Way’s “Essential Shelf”: The star’s 10 must-read graphic novels

ALSO The Dark Horse story: How an Oregon comic-book company became a Hollywood player

Top photo: Gerard Way at the Spike TV Scream 2008 Awards. Credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press

Lower photo: Gerard Way performing at the 2007 MTV Europe Music Awards. Credit: Getty Images.

All ‘Umbrella Academy” art by Gabriel Bá and courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

More in: Uncategorized, Dark Horse, Gerard Way, Umbrella Academy


51 Responses to Gerard Way on the ‘Umbrella Academy’ movie: ‘I don’t want it to be ‘Harry Potter”

  1. kay says:

    sweet. im really excited for him. umbrella academy is such a fantastic comic. i can't wait for a movie, this one will no doubt be an epic thing when the're done. i would kill to be part of it.
    best wishes!

  2. Jo says:

    Tim Burton would be the perfect director for this one D:!

  3. Wendie says:

    scoreee, i'm excited ;D

  4. ragb says:

    dah!!wat eber!!!
    gerard way's so talented!!i love making manga i cant make best but i can do great!!

  5. ragb says:

    dah!!wat eber!!!
    gerard way’s so talented!!i love making manga i cant make best but i can do great!!

  6. geniko cooopiuy says:

    I LOVE UMBRELLA ACADEMY! NOW TO THE IMPORTANT STUFF!!! when leos die, they are given the choice 2 b-come leogods. if they agree, they are granted immortality and go and live on mt. o'leo , where they torment mortals endlessy. there are 13 main leogods. each has his( or her) special duties. for instance, duncan, who is real short and ugly, is in charge of tripping and hitting people. so next time you trip and hurt yourself, blame duncan. Donald is in charge of wood. he likes to slap people with branches. Suki, the only female, is in charge of water. she drowns people and pops kids floats. horton, who is a real old pervert, is in charge of ,um, "female bodily havoc". i hate him. well, i can't go on for ever. Mt oleo is in greece if you're interested in going and killing them. if you are remember that to kill them you must aim for the heel. BELIEVE IT!!

  7. manu_ran says:

    Tim Burton no, please. he is so emo that it would give this movie more emo things :S xDD
    I want these comics but i don't know where to find them here in Spain… x(

    • Number 5 says:

      tim burton would be an amazing director!! he would capture Way's image perfectly! plus gerard would not let it be emo, because he is not!

  8. Alexis Monica Lucero says:

    Tim Burton i a realy good director. i love the previoue movies he has made. adding more emo into the umbrella academy wont do any harm. whats wrong with emo? i my elf have read the umbrella comics and i absolutly love it! i would actualy wonder if it would be in 3D. making emo into 3D would be awome!!!!! ROTFL!!!

  9. maryxloser says:

    As a fan of The Umbrella Acemdemy and MCR, (respectfully, mind you…) I'm very interested in seeing how this comes out. During this interview, they'd mentioned some extraordinary directors, each having a very different take on making films. I know that as long as Gerard stays involved, his vision will be realised. Good luck to them!

  10. Josephine says:

    This is going to be interesting. I really is a big fan of Umbrella Academy and Gerard is a great drawer. I think he does the most amazing things with his voice when he sings to though in My Chem. I'm looking forward to see hows this going to end up. It would be so much fun if it became a movie.

  11. my sister keeps telling me that i should be the one to play Rumor. Allegedly i look like her since i dyed my hair purple.

  12. tamii says:

    the umbrella acadamy is awesome
    and so is mcr

  13. samantha says:

    holy crap! i cannot wait i need ideas for a comic book me and my friend are doing. THIS IS SOOOOO EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. MaPzZz says:

    ¡oOoOoOoH !!!!!!
    I LOVE GERARD WAY !!!!!!!

  15. Gaby says:

    OMG, i would love a movie on The Umbrella Academy =D that would be amazing, i would like tim burton as the director though, his films have a dark vibe to them and turn out amazing. Can't wait for the auditions =D xxx

  16. Izzy says:


  17. Rebekka says:

    Ok! Have never read Umbrella Academy, but if i see one in a store, i will runn to it, and buy it straight away!!!
    And i cant wait till the movie comes out, i am almost about to explode so exited i am!!!
    If i was Gee i would pick Tim B. As the director, but it is all up to him, i'm sure that i will be the best movie ever!!!
    Bye b*POOF!!!!* *rebekka exploded*

  18. Jynx BlackThorn says:

    I'm one of the few fans of 'The Umbrella Academy', and My Chemical Romance, so I'm really excited that they are going to make a movie based off of Gerard's ideas. I think it's great that people think that a movie should be made out of a comic book that's only been out for a couple of years. I hope the movie comes out soon, and when it does,I'm going to be the first in line to see it, like I'm going to be the first in line to buy My Chemical Romance's new album.My parting words are, Good luck and I love you Gerard.
    With so much love and hope,
    Jynessa BlackThorn

  19. Anastasia says:

    Tim Burton would be perfect for this! His moives are inspiriational and so are the Umbrella Academy comics. Good luck, guys and hope everything goes according to plan. My friends and I can't wait!! XD m/

  20. Specner hines says:

    i love my chem. and i love gerards creativity. i am a writer two. i'm currently working on a story that is really my flesh and blood. hope publishers like it. but yeah. love ya gerard. and i love how the violence and darkness that #5 is. to see a 60yr old man whos seen such darkness, but to have him in a small boys body is amazing. can't wait for the movie. keep on keepin on!

  21. Andrea Gutierrez says:

    so stoked at the fact that its becoming a movie. im in love with the comic itself so im sure i'll fall in love with the film. best of luck to gerard.

  22. Bellz says:

    FANTASTIC umbrella academy is the best gracias XDDDD

  23. Anneliese says:

    I'm just happy.

  24. TaylorBug says:

    i've never read Umbrella Academy, but knowing Geegee i bet it's totally awesome!!! luv ya, gee!!!!

  25. […] Way on “Umbrella” film: “I don’t want it to be ‘Harry Potter’ […]

  26. the8thkiss says:

    i wish i can get umbrella academy vol. 3 and hope it gets shipped here soon in the phills. BUt knowing his really busy with the new album gives me the thought im gonna wait a little longer…. hey but at least i still get to listen to their awesome music. :D

  27. […] Way on “Umbrella” film: “I don’t want it to be ‘Harry Potter’ […]

  28. Alex says:

    Tim Burton gonna be perfect director of this movie! Pick him!!

  29. bellatrix says:

    Never want it to be Harry Potter? Who does he think he is? Never want to see this.

  30. mychemicaltoxin says:

    I think that gerard way is a perfect man to help out with this movie. he knows music, costumes, writing, and most importantly he knows what he wants to do with the movie

  31. Silas says:

    holy crap im so excited for going to watch it over and over and over and over again.Just like i did with the books. You are truly amazing and awesome and just…i dont even know how to put a description of Gerard Way into words. YOU ROCK!!!!!! im going to your concert too! :)

  32. blahblah says:

    I don’t know why everybody keeps calling Tim Burton emo, there is a difference between emo and gothic. Nonetheless I don’t think Burton is the right man for the movie (besides the fact that he would proabably cast Johnny dep as spaceboy . . . or seance) I just don’t think he has the right kind of vibe for the movie. I think Guillermo Del Toro would be an absolutely wonderful choice for director :)he’d have it nailed down to a pulp (or however that line goes)

  33. Heather says:

    I can't wait to see this film. I have not read the comics but i will now. I am happy to see Gerard Way so excited about this film. Hurray!! Tim Burton would be perfect to dorect this film.

  34. Xmyownromancex says:

    i agree with gerard i mean yeah to make a movie of the umbrella academy..i mean even the comic is totally diferent thatn all the others well to me it is..and well if they try to make it like harry potter is just not going to be kool and well number five is super violent and with him just comes allot of blood and alot of years and it just wont look righ…lets gerard do what wants with him movie and im am super sure it will come out right like every thing his done with mcr as well….but even gerard need to work with the right people to make that happend…just like mcr…the band is my favorite one in the whole f****** world and gerard made mcr super working with the right people like Ray Toro, Frank Iero , and his brother Mikey way!…..thay are all f***** awsome!!!!!!…..and i love the umbrella academy!…..

  35. Xmyownromancex says:

    i think Gee should play one of the characters

  36. Silvia Garcia says:

    I Read Thee Bookk Umbrellaa Academyy It Wazz Awesomee I Readd Thatt Bookk Too Myy Sisterr Whenn Shee Goess Too Sleepp Shee Lovess Thatt Bookk Alott Andd Shee Lovess Thee Bandd Myy Chemicall Romancee.

  37. ThatINsaneOne says:

    Words cannot describe how excited I am for this. Gerard is a very talented person in many ways (name pun not intended). Whenever it comes out, I’ll be going for the first showing of it, just like I stayed up all night so I could be one of the first to get MCR’s most recent album. 2012, please come faster!

  38. Sammie Iero says:

    no way! if this movie comes out, im SOOOO going to go see it!!!!!

  39. […] Gerard Way on the ‘Umbrella Academy’ movie: ‘I don’t want it to be ‘Harry Potter’ […]

  40. Contemplation_x says:

    OMFG THIS HAS TO COME OUT THIS YEAR PRETTY PLEASE GOD!!!, dont let the world end without me having watched this wonderful movie!!! please please please. I totally agree gee should play on of the characters… or all of mcr… god that’d be hot!!

  41. Marie says:

    It is now 2012!! Is Umbrella Academy still a "go"?

  42. Sprat says:

    i saw on imdb, the release was set for 2012, but there was no info on anything. would it be released on Dvd or in theaters

  43. Invictus says:

    i think seance should be played by Johnny Depp….just saying

  44. Mimi says:

    I wanna know if this will be out soon, it's half into 2012 already!

  45. MCRkilljoyGee says:

    OMG!!! I'm so freaking excited :D cant wait till the movie comes out :))) I think Tim Burton would be a great director :D he is my favorite director and i will be so happy to see Gerard and Tim working together on the movie !! Other than that, I also love MCR they are my favorite band :) thats how i got to reading the Umbrella Academy :)

  46. MCRkilljoyGee says:

    Gerard should TOTALLY be one of the characters :D He is already a great actor in MCR's music videos :)

  47. IlelWay says:

    it was so great that gee… can do many things!!!

  48. Guy says:

    I think it should be a musicial

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